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If Your Narcissist Didn’t Give It, You Ain’t Got It

She was the daughter of Clark Gable and Loretta Young. She had everything money could buy, yet she suffered the most subtle, the most clandestine, the most horrific maternal Narcissistic Abuse. It ruined her entire life. But in her book, Uncommon Knowledge, Judy Lewis called out something that not a lot of books about narcissism mention:

“At a very deep level I believed that I could have
only what my mother gave me,
and that applied to many things throughout my life.”

Wow! The concept that my accomplishments, activities, experiences, successes and even relationships are only real and valid if the narcissist validates them is extremely familiar to me!


Terrified. Absolutely terrified to self-validate. It started in my early teen years.

I thought I was doing okay. I felt okay about my fourteen-year-old self. Just when I thought and felt I was okay, I was blind-sided again. Told that I wasn’t doing okay. An “almost failure,” in fact. The timing was uncanny. It always happened just when I began to feel okay again. And it happened again and again and again.

From this emotional blind-siding and agony, I learned to never, ever self-validate. It was too painful when my self-validation was destroyed…yet again. Judy Lewis seems to have suffered from this same dynamic. She was a wife, mother, grandmother, actress, producer and writer with her Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. Yet, she too was unable to self-validate.

Only Current Success “Counts”

For decades I’ve noticed the oddest thing: If I’m not doing something right now, I don’t believe I can do it. That goes for activities I’ve never done, as well as activities I have. It’s the weirdest thing!

For example, before I was allowed to move out at the age of 31, I didn’t believe I was capable of living alone. Now, living with my husband, I still don’t feel capable of living alone, even though I’ve already done it! The feeling of failure or success seems tied to the present moment, irrespective of my accomplishments in the past.

As Judy Lewis put it in Uncommon Knowledge

“The fact that none of these [current] projects came to fruition
furthered my sense of failure.”

But why!?! She’d done so much with her life and been so successful, yet she too felt like a failure in the present moment despite and regardless of her past accomplishments.

“I had to ask myself how I could
have thought so little of myself then.
Whey did I give myself so little credit for my efforts?”

Why indeed.

Selective Validation

Narcissists’ inherent insecurity and envy means they will never acknowledge our independent accomplishments. They’ll do anything to undermine, invalidate, pooh-pooh, discount or even steal our accomplishment. That explains why I was forbidden from attending my college graduation ceremony. It was not their gift, not their doing and Dad hadn’t attended his ceremony, therefore, I couldn’t attend mine either.

Yet, in some cases, narcissists will grudgingly allow us to own an accomplishment as long as it is their gift. In Judy Lewis’ case, her mother rejected her first fiancé and her second fiancé, men she truly loved and would’ve been very happy with. Loretta didn’t find them nor attract them herself and therefore Judy couldn’t have them.

Instead, Loretta found a young man she liked and she loved to chat with. This young man had her approval and was her gift to her daughter. When Judy experienced extreme emotional upset and vomited on her wedding day, Loretta Young’s doctor was immediately on hand to sedate Judy to ensure she went through with the wedding, albeit in a medically-induced fog. Naturally, Judy and Mike didn’t get along and divorced several years later.

If Your Narcissist Didn’t Give It, You Ain’t Got It

Judy explained it best:

“At a very deep level I believed that I could have
only what my mother gave me,
and that applied to many things throughout my life.

I couldn’t have my father,
a husband,
an acting career,
or a second child
unless she publicly legitimized me
by being present to acknowledge me.

No matter what I accomplished,
her detachment lessened both the reality
and my own personal sense of self-esteem.
I was never quite sure whether I had achieved
what I had on my own merits.”

Wow! That hit me right between the eyes! It’s a dynamic every victim of narcissistic abuse must try to conquer as we dare to learn to self-validate without fear.

Photo by Luiz Fernando Reis MMF

If Your Narcissist Didn’t Give It, You Ain’t Got It

Lenora Thompson

Lenora Thompson is a syndicated Huffington Post freelance writer and food blogger. Her readers call her the "Edward Snowden" and "Wikileaks" of narcissism because of her no-holds-barred-take-no-prisoners approach to writing about narcissism. “Narcissism Meets Normalcy” is the real-life, ongoing story of her healing journey from being held “hostage” by a multi-generational, cult-like narcissistic family. It's gritty and real, bloody and bruised, humorous and sarcastic. Lenora Thompson considers herself a “whistleblower,” shining a spotlight on narcissistic abuse so others can also claim their freedom and experience healing. To learn more about Lenora, her husband Michael's heroic battle with Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and to read her writings about food, please visit Thank you!

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APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2017). If Your Narcissist Didn’t Give It, You Ain’t Got It. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Jan 2017
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